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Tuesday, 21 May 2019

How Stress Effects PCOS

If you've followed me for a while you'll know I suffer with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) and am always up for talking about my experiences with the syndrome. It's a condition that 10% of women of child-bearing age deal with and it can be a real struggle. There are so many factors that I find really effect my PCOS symptoms such as my diet, exercise routines and even my sleep but something I've become more conscious of lately is stress.

When you have PCOS your hormones are already working against you, but when you become stressed this gets so much worse! High levels of stress can cause cause your hormone levels to become more disturbed and it can also increase inflammation - which in turn makes inflammatory PCOS symptoms such as acne and weight gain worse. It's a vicious cycle though, as ladies with PCOS tend to actually suffer with greater levels of stress due to the unpleasant side effects of the condition. We can't catch a break!

I've always known that stress and PCOS are supposedly linked and I've definitely felt stress about having PCOS but I'd never really considered just how much my stress levels were directly impacting my health and my PCOS symptoms until fairly recently.
I'm in a good place with my diet and my exercise. My diet is balanced and full of veg, it's relatively low sugar, anti-inflammatory and contains all the good fats to nourish my body and help to balance my hormones. I don't obsess over exercise any more and no longer endure 1 hour long HIIT sessions 6 times a week (which is not good for PCOS by the way!). So, why are my symptoms and pain out in full force? I put it down to stress.

I've been feeling overwhelmingly stressed over the last couple of months for a number of reasons, and have found it difficult to get under control. I can physically feel the stress levels within my body rise and always feel jittery with anxiety. I feel like my whole body is constantly tense and there's a fixed frown upon my brow. Obviously this isn't good for anyones mental health but it can be especially damaging for a woman with PCOS, as I do. I've noticed that on the weeks I feel particularly stressed my PCOS flares up like crazy!

Obviously reducing stress is key, not just to help PCOS but to positively impact all aspects of your life. I've started trying to take half an hour to an hour out of my day to do one thing that I know calms me down, reduces me anxiety and helps me to truly relax & unwind.
Yoga is my favourite for this. I find it's a real form of moving mediation and it always leaves me feeling clearer and less agitated. Being in nature is another thing I find helps me massively, so taking my dog for a long walk each day is a must for me. I sometimes listen to a podcast or music on my walk, but recently I've been enjoying the peace and quiet because really when do you ever just enjoy the quiet? There's always something going on, your mind is always whirring, you're always absorbing noise. Enjoying a walk in the fresh, clean air away from the distractions of anything else is blissful.

Now the weather is getting nicer I can incorporate both yoga and being in nature! Flowing outside in the fresh air is my new favourite thing, as you can see from the photos above. Then I can refresh with a tasty Equinox Kombucha (my favourite flavour is Wild Berry - it's delicious), which is fab for gut health - another thing strongly connected to PCOS. Adjusting the balance between good and bad bacteria in the gut has shown to improve inflammation and insulin sensitivity in general!

Stress effects us all and it's easy to go through the motions not thinking about how stressed we might fell or how it might be effecting our body. Stress can be a really dangerous thing and it's important we find ways to control it to live our healthiest & happiest lives.

Live Happy, Live Healthy


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